Aerodynamic Truck

Shepherd777

Rookie Expediter
Offline
And if you paid attention to IFTA along the way when choosing your fueling locations it may have been upward of $2600 savings.

That is an item many overlook.
I've work for a few carriers that figured and PAID fuel taxes.
We just bought the cheapest pump price.
Today at 10 mpg+ and carrying 225 gallons I can buy when I want more so then when I have to.
I carry an additional 100 gallons of untaxed fuel for the reefer and APU.

Admittedly, IFTA was the last thing on my mind. Although buying 1/2 as much fuel as most others, we obviously paid 1/2 of what most others paid to IFTA.

You gotta remember we had a different "mission" from the "normal" owner-operator like you guys. Our goal was to get the very best mpg possible, in real-world conditions, delivering freight, and document it. We had a hardware device and accompanying software that took a "snapshot" of the Cummins ECM every 60 seconds. From west of Chicago to Tracy, California alone, we had 2250 lines of data recorded, for 2250 minutes of real-world trucking operation.

But for you guys, absolutely, it pays to be cognizant of your IFTA fueling locations.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SimpleTrucker.com

usafk9

Veteran Expediter
Offline
The nose length is a tad tough to swallow, as we like our creature comforts. Let me explain:

Our current truck is a 2006 Sterling with a Mercedes MBE926 engine, and a Allison 6-speed automatic 3000 MDS transmission. When all the stars are aligned (alignment perfect, no winds, relatively level ground), our fuel economy is 11.2 mpg. This truck has a 96" sleeper with a 22' box, and the truck itself is far from aerodynamic. Two axles fixed plus a pusher axle for loads over 6,000#. We're at 26k empty, and 46k max.

We are loathe to finance new, if we could, but something similar to Stoops' 132" sleeper on a Freightliner chassis with a DD13 and DT12 autoshift appeals to us. However, since we sacrifice cargo space for a humongous sleeper, the nose would take away further from our allowable length.

I spend many nights driving, fantasizing about our next truck (something with a few more cajones). Bigger (in-frame rebuildable) engine, more horsepower/torque, readily available parts, fuel economy, and sleeper size and comforts are of biggest importance to us. I've thought about buying a 2009 or newer Volvo with a factory sleeper, and stretching the sleeper to suit our needs. The VED 13 engine would be our choice. Lots of documented problems with post-emission Cummins engines, however, admit we've never owned one.

I'm game on the skirts and tails. We run wide singles now, and that's what got us to where we are. We run at 59.5 mph, when the loads and our logs allow us to. That is the bottom of 6th gear, and is at 1525 rpm. Our rear axle ratio is 4.78. Not sure if a lower ratio would provide ample power for a Class 7 truck pulling as much weight as it does. Welcome to input.

This is a great thread so far. I appreciate your efforts to our industry. Keep it coming, please.

Photos forthcoming.
 

usafk9

Veteran Expediter
Offline
I should also add that I adore your dash display, and wonder if you did that, or was that Cummins-built?

I know that I look forward to the day that I don't have different things plugged or wired in to make our life behind the wheel easier.
 

Shepherd777

Rookie Expediter
Offline
The nose length is a tad tough to swallow, as we like our creature comforts. Let me explain:

Our current truck is a 2006 Sterling with a Mercedes MBE926 engine, and a Allison 6-speed automatic 3000 MDS transmission. When all the stars are aligned (alignment perfect, no winds, relatively level ground), our fuel economy is 11.2 mpg. This truck has a 96" sleeper with a 22' box, and the truck itself is far from aerodynamic. Two axles fixed plus a pusher axle for loads over 6,000#. We're at 26k empty, and 46k max.

We are loathe to finance new, if we could, but something similar to Stoops' 132" sleeper on a Freightliner chassis with a DD13 and DT12 autoshift appeals to us. However, since we sacrifice cargo space for a humongous sleeper, the nose would take away further from our allowable length.

I spend many nights driving, fantasizing about our next truck (something with a few more cajones). Bigger (in-frame rebuildable) engine, more horsepower/torque, readily available parts, fuel economy, and sleeper size and comforts are of biggest importance to us. I've thought about buying a 2009 or newer Volvo with a factory sleeper, and stretching the sleeper to suit our needs. The VED 13 engine would be our choice. Lots of documented problems with post-emission Cummins engines, however, admit we've never owned one.

I'm game on the skirts and tails. We run wide singles now, and that's what got us to where we are. We run at 59.5 mph, when the loads and our logs allow us to. That is the bottom of 6th gear, and is at 1525 rpm. Our rear axle ratio is 4.78. Not sure if a lower ratio would provide ample power for a Class 7 truck pulling as much weight as it does. Welcome to input.

This is a great thread so far. I appreciate your efforts to our industry. Keep it coming, please.

Photos forthcoming.

Hi AJ -

I searched for Peak Torque RPM of your engine and I came up with 1200 & 1400. Do you know which of the two you engine is rated at? If it's 1400, you're doing just right at 1525 rpm. If it's 1200, I would slow down if possible ( I understand what "Expedited" means) so the revs are like 1350 or 1325 rpm's at cruise. You'll save a ship-load of fuel just doing that.

"When all the stars are aligned" MPG doesn't mean too much in the real world. Please tell me the average for say 10,000 or 30,000 miles. The BulletTruck will do 17.5-18.0 MPG @ 65,000 GVW on a level grade all day long. It does 2.5-3.0 MPG climbing a good steep grade like everyone else. It averages 13.4 MPG over many miles and all of those 17.5-18.0 MPG legs and those 2.5-3.0 MPG legs.

Stretching a Volvo sleeper without harming the structural integrity of the whole cab would be tricky, in my opinion. It's definitely not a DIY project.

Agreed on the documented problems on the emissions engines. The EGR engines of 2003-04 to the 2009 Cummins engines have a ship-load of problems. With the 2010 Cert., they seemed to have ironed-out most of the problems, but they are still not quite fuel-efficient as the Pre-EGR stuff. We will be using a 2014 EPA Cert. Cummins engine in the new truck. I feel they have all of the issues straightened out now. And the fuel mileage of the engine itself is even better than the pre-emissions engines. We had a pre-EGR 1999 Cert. engine in the BulletTruck that was installed by the OEM factory in 2003.
 
Last edited:

Shepherd777

Rookie Expediter
Offline
I should also add that I adore your dash display, and wonder if you did that, or was that Cummins-built?

I know that I look forward to the day that I don't have different things plugged or wired in to make our life behind the wheel easier.

Thanks for the kind words.

The nice folks at the Cummins Technical Center supplied and programmed a brand new ECM while we were there. And I threw-in my 2 cents with input on the parameters that we wanted set.

But that 9" Hi-Definition digital display was my baby. I just hate how the large OEM's have like 1/4" characters and letters on such an important engine readout. I mean I can see if somebody is a company driver and doesn't care about MPG because they're not paying for the fuel. But a doinkey little display for important engine feedback for an owner-operators like us and everyone here? Not in any truck that we will ever build. One needs real-time feedback from the engine display to properly drive the truck efficiently. And some of you out there reading this aren't getting any younger. (you know who you are) Why squint to try and see the darn little thing when it contains such important engine info?

If you like the display in the BulletTruck, you'll love the multiple displays in the new truck. There will be no old fashioned "steam gauges" at all in our next-gen truck. And most of the switches (HVAC, Headlights, Fan, etc.) will be on a touch screen. Not because we want to be different. But because we can do it with less hardware (physical switches) and wires. And "soft" switches never wear out or burn out. Headlight switches are usually high-amperage. But our new truck, just like the BulletTruck before it, will have custom LED headlights. And no, the operating system won't be Microsoft Windows with a boat-load of glitches. But it may be the operating system on many SmartPhones: the Android operating system.
 
Last edited:

usafk9

Veteran Expediter
Offline
Hi AJ -

I searched for Peak Torque RPM of your engine and I came up with 1200 & 1400. Do you know which of the two you engine is rated at? If it's 1400, you're doing just right at 1525 rpm. If it's 1200, I would slow down if possible ( I understand what "Expedited" means) so the revs are like 1350 or 1325 rpm's at cruise. You'll save a ship-load of fuel just doing that.

"When all the stars are aligned" MPG doesn't mean too much in the real world. Please tell me the average for say 10,000 or 30,000 miles. The BulletTruck will do 17.5-18.0 MPG @ 65,000 GVW on a level grade all day long. It does 2.5-3.0 MPG climbing a good steep grade like everyone else. It averages 13.4 MPG over many miles and all of those 17.5-18.0 MPG legs and those 2.5-3.0 MPG legs.

Stretching a Volvo sleeper without harming the structural integrity of the whole cab would be tricky, in my opinion. It's definitely not a DIY project.

Agreed on the documented problems on the emissions engines. The EGR engines of 2003-04 to the 2009 Cummins engines have a ship-load of problems. With the 2010 Cert., they seemed to have ironed-out most of the problems, but they are still not quite fuel-efficient as the Pre-EGR stuff. We will be using a 2014 EPA Cert. Cummins engine in the new truck. I feel they have all of the issues straightened out now. And the fuel mileage of the engine itself is even better than the pre-emissions engines. We had a pre-EGR 1999 Cert. engine in the BulletTruck that was installed by the OEM factory in 2003.

Stretching the sleeper would definitely be done by a professional. I'm not that confident in my welding skills.

Of the CARB-compliant class 8 tractors on the market now with a full-height sleeper, which brand do you view as most aerodynamic with no modification?

Sent from my DROID RAZR using EO Forums mobile app
 

Shepherd777

Rookie Expediter
Offline
Of the CARB-compliant class 8 tractors on the market now with a full-height sleeper, which brand do you view as most aerodynamic with no modification?

I dunno, they're all equally urine-poor in my eyes. Whichever one you get, make sure they match cab height with van box height. I have seen a lot of mis-matches here, and the people building these things for you guys don't seem to have a clue on how that disparity in height affects your MPG.
 

Shepherd777

Rookie Expediter
Offline
I think a more appropriate image is from the BulletTruck itself.

Here is a screenshot from our SolidWorks CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) software and how full skirts promote a laminar flow of the slipstream:

BT CFD.jpg
 

Shepherd777

Rookie Expediter
Offline
I am curious to what it has cost to get that kind of fuel mileage?

That's a good question.

The answer is: It costs a lot more to build it, than the fuel that one would save.

Even though we did save over $2500 in fuel (in 2012 prices) in only one, coast-to-coast, 8003 mile trip last year.

You gotta remember, we have a different business model than you as an Owner-Operator, or any other owner-operator. Our business model is that of an OEM, albeit a tiny, niche one, to start. We aspire to sell Premium 21st. century, hyper-fuel-mileage, Class 8 trucks to owner operators like yourself.

When your friends at Freightliner design a new truck, they spend countless millions of dollars doing so, in anticipation of selling that new model truck. I heard that Freightliner's parent company, Daimler in Germany, spent like a Billion (yes, with a "B") dollars to develop their new Mercedes cabover rig. Maybe you can confirm that claim with one of your Freightliner contacts. I'm sure you guys have seen pics of it. If not, here it is:

http://autostrada.md/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Nuovo-Mercedes-Actros-2013-12-620x413.jpg

So with the BulletTruck, we spent tens of thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars engineering, developing, and testing the concepts of our prototype truck. All in anticipation of selling our "from-scratch, next-generation brand new trucks. And we also had the magnanimous help of over 20 corporate Partners who provided over $100K of products and services in support of our efforts as well. All just to prove two major concepts on a Class 8 truck: a ducted cooling system, and advanced aerodynamics. I feel we conclusively proved both of those concepts. And we learned a lot, about hyper-fuel mileage. I'm sorry I cannot elaborate on that in public. "Would Macy's tell Gimble's?" is an old phrase you may have heard of, referring to the two famous New York City retail stores.

I saw Freightliner trumpet a new "fairing" in a press release recently, claiming a 2.4% fuel savings with the device. I laughed out-loud when I read that. An Owner-Operator that has already spent up to, or even more than $150K on a brand new Class 8 rig, why would one be forced to spends thousands just to improve its efficiency? That's an insult to the truck owner. That's like selling buggy software on purpose, just so you can whack the customer again by selling them an upgrade, to fix the original problem. Why didn't the software manufacturer, or the truck OEM, just design and build it right in the first place???

Our next-generation "from-scratch" rigs will have no fairings. One will not even be able to buy one. A fairing only means that someone initially designed the truck wrong to begin with. An Owner-Operator who buys one of our rigs will not have to spend one cent to add-on some half-baked device to get better fuel mileage.
 
Last edited:

moose

Veteran Expediter
Offline
O.K, Bob- i give up!
you build it, I'll buy it.
how long is the waiting list?
 

Shepherd777

Rookie Expediter
Offline
O.K, Bob- i give up!
you build it, I'll buy it.
how long is the waiting list?

Hi Moose -

Thanks for the interest, but it may be a little premature to be taking orders.

We are striving to have the new truck at MATS 2015. That is where most people will get their first glimpse of it.

We are not going to publish build pics on the internet, like we did for the BulletTruck. PACCAR in Renton, WA is at the AirFlow Truck web site again, as we speak. So we are playing our cards "close to the vest" on this new truck. On the BulletTruck, we published everything, to get more business Partners. No need to do that with the new rig.

I believe many truckers, even owner-operators, will absolutely hate the exterior look of the new truck. We don't really care. We are hoping that we will have a small percentage that will absolutely love the look. So, you may love it or you may hate it. We don't build trucks on public opinion polls.

But owner-operator feedback is very important to us. So we will be soliciting feedback from drivers at events like MATS. Since I was an owner-operator way back in 1980, I believe I know the most of the market. I could be wrong.

The new truck will be appreciated by owner-operators who treat their truck as a business.

If you currently buy shiny chrome switches for your dashboard, have multiple beer-can antennas for your CB, have sharp and pointy chrome lug nut covers, run a Jake Brake with no mufflers in residential neighborhoods, and spend every weekend polishing your wheels, fuel tanks, and bumper, then our new truck probably won't be for you. If you currently spend your day driving 75 mph then spend 3 hours in every truck stop trying to plug every ugly waitress from here to Tucumcari, then our new truck won't be for you. And if you get physically "aroused" walking through the Chrome Shop at Iowa 80 Truck Stop, then our new truck surely won't be for you. No chrome will be available on our new truck. In my opinion, chrome has been out of style since 1973, when Corvette first used a urethane front bumper in lieu of a chrome one. We are not gonna build new trucks like it is still 1950, like ALL of the large OEM's do.

We are very, very, very Anti-Bling. You want bling? Become a Rap Star.

I think everyone, owner-operators and company drivers, will absolutely love the interior. Company drivers will lust in envy to have such an interior. Owner-operators will finally have an interior more like a "home-away-from-home." Think High-End RV. Our interior is currently being designed by an high-end aircraft interior designer. During his "day job", he designs first-class premium accommodations for $300 Million aircraft for a country's flag-ship carrier. No chrome and plastic in the interior, guys.

So if you like brushed stainless-steel and brushed aluminum, and carbon fiber and other composite materials, premium leather and high-end fabrics, then our new truck may be for you.

If you are Anti-Bling and just love the look of craftsmanship and workmanship, great attention to details, and a general overall "Aircraft" look and feel of high-end engineering like we do, then our new truck may be for you.

And if you would like to make more money than anyone else without one, then one of our new trucks will definitely be for you.
 
Last edited:

layoutshooter

Veteran Expediter
Retired Expediter
Offline
Sounds like this truck may be pretty cool. Only two problems I can see with it, as least from my point of view. 2015 is too late. IF I am going to buy another truck it will likely be next year. I can also be that this truck is going to be WAY out of my price range. What I am looking at now would be 200K to 250K. It boggles the mind what a truck that would do what I need, with all that "custom work" would cost. I would need $4 all miles on every load to pay for it!

Good luck! I can't wait to see it! Should be VERY interesting!

How much is body work going to cost when some jack weed backs into it at a truck stop or I get caught in another hail storm? Could ANY body shop work on it or will it have to come "home" for repairs?
 

Shepherd777

Rookie Expediter
Offline
Sounds like this truck may be pretty cool. Only two problems I can see with it, as least from my point of view. 2015 is too late. IF I am going to buy another truck it will likely be next year. I can also be that this truck is going to be WAY out of my price range. What I am looking at now would be 200K to 250K. It boggles the mind what a truck that would do what I need, with all that "custom work" would cost. I would need $4 all miles on every load to pay for it!

Good luck! I can't wait to see it! Should be VERY interesting!

How much is body work going to cost when some jack weed backs into it at a truck stop or I get caught in another hail storm? Could ANY body shop work on it or will it have to come "home" for repairs?

Hopefully, we won't be pricing it out of your, or anyone else's, price range. But that is a serious problem that we will have, compared to other OEM's. When say Volvo buys components, they may buy 10,000 units or more at a time. And when they buy that many, they get a tremendous price break on each piece. Compare that price to what we would pay as a "niche" OEM, and that is a serious problem for us regarding pricing.

Our composite cab will be 40% less expensive and 25% lighter than stamped steel and/or aluminum cabs that everyone else uses. So hopefully, we can pass on that savings to all of our customers.

Regarding body damage, that is a problem that a niche OEM like us would have as well. All of the large OEM's obviously have a dealer network, where one can get his or her truck repaired. So we will try to align with an OEM (unlikely, as much as I beat them up verbally) or possibly a rental truck organization (think Penske) to have them service our vehicles while on the road. All new Class 8 truck front ends are fiberglass anyways. So these are not uncharted waters for a good repair shop.

One feature that you may personally like is our factory-installed safe. As you are probably aware, some states (like Ohio) prohibit "Hidden Compartments". But they are only referring to hidden compartments used for transporting illegal drugs. So a factory-installed or owner-installed safe is perfectly legit.

"(I) This section does not apply to a box, safe, container, or other item added to a vehicle for the purpose of securing valuables, electronics, or firearms provided that at the time of discovery the box, safe, container, or other item added to the vehicle does not contain a controlled substance or visible residue of a controlled substance."

I have multiple CCW permits with almost nationwide reciprocity. I have had my resident State of CT CCW permit for going on 41 years now. So I am always packing in Ohio and almost 40 other states all of the time. I would not be using the safe in all of those states. In the BulletTruck, I installed a safe under the OEM bunk, next to our APU condenser unit. This was used for when we were driving through a democratic state (like the Peoples Republic of New York, Chicago, the Peoples Republic of California, etc.) or any other locality that disregarded the U.S. Constitution. So when traveling through such a jurisdiction last year, I very reluctantly took off my Ed Brown Custom, Colt Lightweight Officer's Model, .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol and my Wilson Combat Sharkskin inside the waistband featherlight holster and stowed both and two extra Wilson magazines in the safe. I immediately put the rig back on when I got out of those slum areas.
 
Last edited:

zorry

Veteran Expediter
Offline
Hendrickson, the suspension people, used to hand build trucks, one at a time. At least until the mid 70's.

Trucks were much simpler then.

This looks like a truck for mail haulers and people with big bid runs. (forward Air,Fedex Ground,Van Kampen (sp ?)
In the 70's our Chicago-Omaha trucks ran 500 miles per day, but 365 days every year. 180,000 miles per year as a solo operation. Slip seated.

Look for trade ins that have 600,000 miles,or more, on a three year old truck.

Those are the guys that can afford to pay a lot to save a lot of fuel.

While it's enjoyable reading this interaction, I imagine few here run enough miles to make a heavy investment to save fuel.
 

Shepherd777

Rookie Expediter
Offline
Hendrickson, the suspension people, used to hand build trucks, one at a time. At least until the mid 70's.

Trucks were much simpler then.

This looks like a truck for mail haulers and people with big bid runs. (forward Air,Fedex Ground,Van Kampen (sp ?)
In the 70's our Chicago-Omaha trucks ran 500 miles per day, but 365 days every year. 180,000 miles per year as a solo operation. Slip seated.

Look for trade ins that have 600,000 miles,or more, on a three year old truck.

Those are the guys that can afford to pay a lot to save a lot of fuel.

While it's enjoyable reading this interaction, I imagine few here run enough miles to make a heavy investment to save fuel.

I hear you on the costs and I get what you are saying.

Our new trucks would hopefully appeal to an owner-operator who was contemplating on buying a new rig from one of the large OEM's. I'm hoping when all is said and done, that we can price our new trucks competitively to what one of those giant OEM's would charge an owner-operator. Even if our price was somewhat higher, we could prove that an owner could pay that premium amount back, and then reap the savings for all miles past that break-even point.
 

layoutshooter

Veteran Expediter
Retired Expediter
Offline
I hear you on the costs and I get what you are saying.

Our new trucks would hopefully appeal to an owner-operator who was contemplating on buying a new rig from one of the large OEM's. I'm hoping when all is said and done, that we can price our new trucks competitively to what one of those giant OEM's would charge an owner-operator. Even if our price was somewhat higher, we could prove that an owner could pay that premium amount back, and then reap the savings for all miles past that break-even point.


Would those savings be enough to offset, not only the additional cost of the truck, but the additional cost of financing the higher costs?

You have a interesting outtake on trucks, I just cannot decide if it is practical in an every day business way. Costs for trucks, as well as fuel, are really out of control. With all the environmental laws, it is already difficult to recoup the cost of a truck that costs 250K+ since they go out of "legal" in too short a time frame.

I like the safe, too bad I can't carry on the truck. Canada is a pain, and our carrier does not allow it. It would be good for hiding cash etc. Good idea.
 

Shepherd777

Rookie Expediter
Offline
Would those savings be enough to offset, not only the additional cost of the truck, but the additional cost of financing the higher costs?

You have a interesting outtake on trucks, I just cannot decide if it is practical in an every day business way. Costs for trucks, as well as fuel, are really out of control. With all the environmental laws, it is already difficult to recoup the cost of a truck that costs 250K+ since they go out of "legal" in too short a time frame.

I like the safe, too bad I can't carry on the truck. Canada is a pain, and our carrier does not allow it. It would be good for hiding cash etc. Good idea.

I don't know how many miles you run. One forum member told me he runs 75K miles, another 100K miles. Let's assume 100K miles for ease of calculations. Let's also assume $4.00 per gallon (I have no idea of your liter price) even though the U.S. national average is currently $3.89.

If you run 100,000 miles per year and average 10 mpg, that's 10,000 gallons of fuel consumed each year, for a cost of $40,000.

If you had a truck that somehow got 20 mpg (we anticipate our next-generation Expediter rig to do better than that, believe it or not) you would burn only 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel, for a cost of $20,000.

So one would save $20,000 annually, or $1666 per month on fuel alone.

Fuel is currently down, as everyone here knows. But sooner or later, Israel is not gonna let Iran go nuclear. So fuel could be...... who knows.

You would also absolutely, positively, not have as much service costs. Oil change intervals, with proper monitoring, could conceivably be doubled. So if you change your oil and filters at say 15,000 miles now at 10 mpg, you may be able to safely change it at 30,000 miles at 20 mpg. If you put less fuel into an engine, you are diluting the engine oil that much less, all other things being equal. I monitored the BulletTruck Cummins ISX oil at 30,000 miles, double its 15,000 mile spec, and it was still doing its job with only minor degradation.

Ah, Canada. I don't travel to the lovely Great White North because of the "G" word. Obviously a CCW permit is not available in Canada. And that tool is just like my American Express card. I don't leave home without it.
 
Last edited:
Top